Cuesta College student Simon Rowe is now the 2013 welding champion in the nation, and Michael Mullen is ranked second in automotive services technology. The two career technical education students, both residents San Luis Obispo, competed in the 49th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC), held in Kansas City June 24-28. The NLSC is a showcase of career and technical education students from around the country. Additionally, the college’s welding fabrication team, consisting of students Jon Ellery, Patrick Hickey and Ryan May, placed 8th out of 23 in the nation.

“To take home a gold and silver at nationals it’s, just, wow,” said Engineering Technology Department Chair John Stokes. “Welding and automotive services technology are two of the most competitive contests at the conference, so for Cuesta College to be in the top two in these particular events shows just how great our Career Technical Education Program is.”

About 6,000 public high school and college/postsecondary technical students enrolled in career and technical education programs participated in the competition in nearly 100 contests. Each contestant is a state-level gold medalist.

Rowe is no stranger to the national podium – in 2012 he won the bronze in welding and in 2011 he took home the gold in automotive collision repair. This was the first national competition for Mullen as a postsecondary student – he medaled in automotive services technology as a high school student in 2011.

Cuesta College boasts 14 national medals and has had a medalist on the national podium every year since the college began competing in 2006. “No other school in California has done that, and very few other schools in the nation have accomplished eight consecutive years of being nationally ranked,” said Stokes.

In April 2013, Cuesta sent 10 of its students to the state SkillsUSA competition in San Diego and came home with 10 medals. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce.


Lauren Milbourne / (805) 546-3108 / Lauren_milbourne@cuesta.edu / Posted: 7/3/13